Information for refugees and asylum seekers

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Anyone granted refugee status has the same right to education and training as an Irish citizen. People given leave to remain in the State normally have the same access though this is not protected in law.

Primary and secondary: All children must stay in school until 16. On completing primary education, they transfer to secondary level where they sit Junior Certificate exams after three years. Students can continue on to the Leaving Certificate exam which takes a further two to three years. Resources for non-English speaking children are normally provided.

Adults: Adults can avail of free English language and literacy classes and are entitled to free, approved, Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS).

Third-level: Refugees and those with leave to remain are entitled to free third-level education if they have lived in Ireland for three years or more. They may also qualify for maintenance grants.

Further information:

Medical services

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) helps you find a general practitioner and contacts your Local Health Office which offers medical screening and provides for your general medical and dental needs. If you are entitled to one, this office will also help you get a medical card which gives you many free services, including maternity and psychological support if required.

Further information:

Social Protection Payments

There are many payments and each has separate qualifying rules. Payments include support for unemployment, illness/disability, single parents and low-income households. Parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 are entitled to a monthly payment known as Child Benefit regardless of your circumstances. While waiting for a decision on your application for a payment, you can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Further information: 

Useful links

Links to many sites and organisations which may be of interest to refugees and those granted leave to remain in Ireland are listed below. The Citizens Information Board website is particularly useful. It has extensive information on public services and your general rights and entitlements.

Further information:

Phone Service: 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm.

Call-in service: You can call in to a centre (see their website for one near you), but having an appointment is advised. 

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees):

IOM (International Organization for Migration):

TIC (The Integration Centre):

Crosscare Migrant Project:

Irish Refugee Council:

New Communities Partnership (NCP):

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres):

NASC (immigrant support centre):

Doras Luimni:

AKIDWA (network of African and migrant women):

Immigrant Council of Ireland:


Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI):

Volunteer Ireland:

Citizen’s Information:

Department of Justice & Equality:

Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service (INIS):

Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC):

Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB):

Department of Social Protection:

Reception & Integration Agency (RIA):

Refugee Legal Service (RLS):

Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT):